The life of peace on earth is lived by prayer. When we feel wounded by lies and deceit, prayer directs our focus from ourselves to God, from self-pity to God’s glory. Obsessing over lies and deceit breeds bitterness; prayer fosters forgiveness.
Tag Archives: Advent
With Shouts of Joy
Joy is not an achievement of the Christian life but a fruit of it. Nor is joy an acquisition but the produce of living by faith and obedience to the Spirit of Christ. Yet, some may feel as if joy is fleeting. If you are a Christian and wonder where your joy has gone, it would be wise to look to the robber baron of sin, your flesh. Like a thief who breaks in on Christmas Eve to steal all the presents under the tree, sin stealthily steals the gift of joy. And when we awake and realize it’s gone, we often look for it in all the wrong places.
For the Love of God
This is of course good news for all who are in Christ and joyfully under his reign. But it is not good news for his enemies, all who reject his gospel freely offered, his righteous rule graciously given. And as Zion is the dwelling place of God, to whom Christ has given “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” and the authority to bind and loose on earth as in heaven (Matt. 16:19), all who reject the gospel of Christ’s church will be clothed with shame. But the love of God shines forth in his dwelling presence, for Christ and his body are one (1 Cor. 12:27). But where there is no love for Christ’s church, there is no love of God (1 Jn. 4:7-12). Therefore, for the love of God, “let us love one another” (1 Jn. 4:7a), enjoying the dwelling place and presence of the Lord forever.
Deep Woes, Enduring Hope
In this, we are reminded of God’s steadfast love for his people. We rejoice that our redemption in Christ is so plentiful that it covers the sins of our past, present, and future. For, we are a people who have received the gift of God’s grace in Christ, who has redeemed us from all our iniquities, and he is the God who hears our cries, answers our prayers, sustains us moment by moment, and gives us hope, even in the depths of woe.
Our Peace Offering
But it is not in our sinful state that God is pleased but in the sinless sacrifice of his Son, whom he has given as the greatest gift of all. As John wrote to the church, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). In Christ, our peace offering, we have been given the gift of peace with God forever. There is no greater Christmas gift than that.
Joy in My Heart
Sometimes life can feel unbearable. Whether it be the anxiety of a situation, conflict with people, or restless worry over tomorrow, we can easily grow frustrated even cynical, wondering where has the joy of living gone? We have all likely felt this way before, perhaps even today. But sometimes it can be difficult to express what we are feeling, to others, to ourselves, and even to God. But God has neither created nor redeemed us to wallow in the weight of our worries but desires that we cry out to him, giving us not only the privilege but the poetry too.
Loved to Love
Consider our passage today in Leviticus. He who is holy calls his people to be holy, like Father like child, a set apartness of and for God. What follows is a less succinct almost lyrical expansion of the Ten Commandments, an elaboration on what it means to love God and examples of what it looks like to love our neighbor. For example, it may surprise us to find that despite the thousands of years that separate us from ancient Israel, how Israel is commanded to love their neighbor is remarkably relevant for us today. So, if I too may summarize, loving our neighbor means loving generously, honestly, equitably, justly, and reasonably.
Hope – Believing God
The point in this: There are some things fulfilled in Scripture to which we look, believe, and find hope. There are other things promised but not yet fulfilled to which we also look, believe, and find hope.
Rejoice in the Lord Always
The term joy is often misunderstood by modern Christians because of the way it is defined and used in our culture today. Joy is often considered a synonym for happiness, which in modern use is understood as more sentimental than substantive.
Love Shines Through
It is as practical as the commandments in Leviticus and as beautiful as the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord. And when we as the church love one another as Christ loved us, that love shines through to the world, awaiting a fitting response. May the world watch and see and say: “Certainly these are the followers of Christ, they have been with Jesus.”